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Freelance Mapping


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#1
Lactrodectes

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Hi all

First of all, A BIG THANK YOU to the person who started this Forum / Site - this has got to be one of the few cartographic interest sites around and I think its wonderful! People don't realize how fun and exciting map work really is!

I have been working in the map industry for about 2 and a half years now and would like to go solo producing my own maps or freelancing. Does anyone have any really good leads out there please?

Chow
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#2
Nick Springer

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I have been doing freelance mapping for years along side of a full-time job. My best advice is to start freelancing part-time until you have a client base. It will probably take a few years to get a steady base of clients.

Start with a good website and maybe even some AdWords on Google. Create a printed promotional piece (the more professional looking the better).

Depending on the types of maps you want to make (print, web, artsy, etc.) try to find companies that use those kinds of maps and send a brochure or sample sheet.

Magazines, book publishers, real-estate agencies & developers, and communication companies all need maps.

Contact other cartographers and see if they need any freelance help. This is a great way to build a portfolio.

Hope that helps.

Nick Springer

Director of Design and Web Applications: ALK Technologies Inc.
Owner: Springer Cartographics LLC


#3
Lactrodectes

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Hmmm....yes - I could do that but it would be a bit of a conflict of interest if you know what I mean.....but there's nothing wrong with getting a portfolio together....or acquiring clients.

Thanks for the site AND the advice, Nick.

Much appreciated!
Lactrodectes

#4
Guest_Jen_*

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Hi Nick!
Thanks for reposonding with some interesting ideas to get a Cartography business up and running. I'm at the stage where I have some potential clients but I don't know how to go about setting a price for a contract. Any thoughts? Also, if you don't mind me asking, what types of software do you use for your projects? How do you finance purchasing the expensive software?
Thanks,
Jen

#5
Nick Springer

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You can go two ways with pricing: hourly or flat rate.

If you go with an hourly rate then you can better control getting paid for the actual work done. However clients can sometimes be resistant to open-ended hourly contracts. They will probably want an estimate and possibly a "not-to-exceed" price.

A flat rate appeals to clients because they know exactly what they will be paying. You have to be very careful to put the exact details of the project deliverables in writing before starting any work so both you and the client agree on what they are getting for the price. Flat rates can be tricky until you have some experience figuring out how long it will take to produce a specific map.

I use flat rate pricing and base the price on how much a project is worth to me rather than based on estimated hours. For instance I can look at the specs for a project and quickly decide that anything less than $X will not be woth the effort. Especially small projects can take up lots of logistical time and may not be woth the effort. You will have to set that price point for yourself.

As far as software goes I primarily use ArcView 8 to produce the basic geographic outlines and labels with no design, and then export it to Adobe Illustrator format. I then use Adobe Illustrator CS to stylize and clean up the maps. If the map is destined for the web then I will use Adobe Photoshop CS to create the final image from the Illustrator file.

Financing the software is tricky, it's a bit of the chicken and the egg. If you know you have a good number of projects lined up then you can buy with a credit card and pay it back later. You can also often get fully functioning 30 to 60 day trial versions of software that might get you through until you can get paid and buy the full version. Overall though your first profits will often go to software and hardware upgrades.

Hope that helps. Email or PM me if you would like me to send you a sample of the contract I use with my clients.

Nick Springer

Director of Design and Web Applications: ALK Technologies Inc.
Owner: Springer Cartographics LLC


#6
Hans van der Maarel

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I've been working for a cartography/GIS sales company for five years (started for myself as a GIS consultant last week) and during that period we did a couple of cartographic production projects.

Best advice I can give:
Document exactly what you will do for which price and make sure you have an agreement ready for any additional work. Don't be afraid to be firm about this. We weren't and we ended up doing a lot of work for free. If your client wants something on the final map that wasn't mentioned in the negotiating phase, tell him. No matter how small it is.

As for software, we used FME for data preparation and Adobe Illustrator with the MAPublisher plug-in for the actual cartographic work.

Hans
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#7
Nick Springer

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I've never heard of FME. Is it a GIS application?

I have tried the MAPublisher demo a couple of times but found it confusing and hard to use. It may be that I just did not spend enough time with it, because it looks powerfull (although a bit pricey).

Nick Springer

Director of Design and Web Applications: ALK Technologies Inc.
Owner: Springer Cartographics LLC


#8
Hans van der Maarel

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First of all, I'd like to point out that I have been working as a reseller of both FME and MAPublisher for 5 years. Also, in my own business, I want to focus on consultancy and services aimed at those products.

I'm not sure what this board's policy on commercial promotions is, but currently I am not a reseller of either product anymore, so there is no immediate benefit for me if somebody from here buys it.

Anyway, to continue:
FME could be considered a GIS application, but it started out as a conversion tool. It can work with pretty much any kind of GIS data (supports a long list of formats) and during the conversion, you have the option to perform pretty much every GIS function you can imagine. Its main advantage is that the process can be saved and reused. For more information about FME, visit Safe's website. Keep in mind that this product has a pretty steep learning curve.

As for MAPublisher, the demo of the latest version (6 for Illustrator 10 and CS) comes with sample data and tutorials. It is a very powerful tool, but it does take some time getting used to.

Regarding the price setting, even as a reseller we couldn't really excercise any influence over that, but they do have an e-commerce option available where you get to download the whole thing for a reduced price. Obviously, this doesn't include a cd or printed manuals.
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
Red Geographics
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#9
Nick Springer

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Thanks for the info. One of these days I will spend more time looking at MAPublisher.

While CartoTalk is meant to be promotion free for the most part, product descriptions for informational purposes are not a problem, nor do I have a problem with reasonable signatures with company info (obviously).

Nick Springer

Director of Design and Web Applications: ALK Technologies Inc.
Owner: Springer Cartographics LLC





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